Tiny Houses

28 May 2014

On May 13, an unseasonably warm Tuesday evening, over 30 people gathered at Assemble in Garfield as cityLAB’s president and CEO, Eve Picker, presented seven potential tiny house plans for the upcoming project. Attendees were given a survey packet and asked to record their opinions regarding each building schematic. On a five-point scale of ‘very poor’ to ‘very good,’ respondents rated five aspects: 1) fit into streetscape; 2) overall design quality; 3) functionality; 4) quality of interior space; and 5) potential for outdoor space. Additionally, the respondents were asked if they would live in the house and why, or why not, because, ultimately, this could be their house one day. Back at the office we went to work mining the data and recording each and every comment. We locked our intern in a room and didn’t allow him to come out, excepting for bathroom breaks, small snacks and one hour of sunlight a day. We’ll get to the results in a bit, but first, more on the presentation.

First of all, we’re really excited to announce cityLAB has just signed a sales agreement to buy a vacant lot from the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. Our tiny house will be built at 223 N. Atlantic Avenue, just north of Broad Street, and only two blocks away from Penn Avenue, making it extremely accessible to public transportation and the business corridor (we’ll talk more about the site in a future post). The planning session was to help attendees (we like to call them “potential buyers”) visualize what a tiny house might look like at 223 N. Atlantic, which measures just 24 feet  by 43 feet.  All seven of the housing plans we considered can be found online and there was no shortage of images describing what each one looks like built.  The smallest house, called Minimotive, is just 196 square feet. None were larger than 600 square feet.

Other aspects covered in the presentation included: how the house would be located on the lot (close to the street, or set back); which way the house would be situated; how big of a footprint the house occupied (and how much outdoor space was left over); how the layout of interior works; and finally, pros and cons about each plan. Designs ranged from beautifully detailed Arts and Crafts to minimalist ultra-contemporary models. You can view the whole presentation below, but now for the results…

A show-of-hands vote was taken at the end of the presentation and Minim, with its sleek design and maximum utility, was far-and-away the favorite. However, the survey responses told a slightly different story. When asked a simple yes/no Would you live in this house?, the results looked like this:

The last question on the survey asked respondents to rank their top three tiny house picks:


Here Minim collected the most overall votes, as well as the most first and second-place votes. Additionally, the survey revealed that Minim was rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ more times in four out of the five categories than any of the other houses.

We’re thrilled to be building the gorgeous, tiny Minim house in the months to come. We believe people will come a long way to see Minim, and we think Minim will go a long way to help make Garfield a 6% Place.

In the next post, we’ll look at what people had to say about the other tiny homes. In the meantime, check out the slideshow in our previous post and let us know what you think about the different house plans. We’d love the feedback!


  1. John Osgood said on

    Are there any code issues with the “trailer” design of the Minim as opposed to the other, more conventional designs. Specifically for the City of Pittsburgh. I live (rent) in Lawrenceville and am very interested in this project. Just learned of it last week. Would like to get more info on approx. costs for lots and the different models discussed.

    Another exciting thing happening in Pittsburgh!

  2. admin said on

    Hi John – I’m so sorry I missed your comment. Yes, there is an issue with wheels in Pittsburgh. You must have a foundation and we will be modifying the design. Thanks for following us!

  3. admin said on

    Martina – your tiny house is adorable. Have you built more than one of these? Where is it located?

  4. […] city, from inside and out. In May cityLAB folks reviewed 7 different micro house designs, then voted.  Minim was honored to be the chosen microhouse that cityLAB will build this year.  cityLAB […]

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